A thousand young people in the West Midlands will have the chance to complete their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) as part of the Gen22 programme, the charity has announced today.
A group of young people who are among the first to start their DofE as part of their Gen22 participation received a visit from HRH The Earl of Wessex on Friday, in his role as a DofE Trustee. The Earl met young people from across the West Midlands at City Academy, Birmingham, and heard about the impact taking part is having on them.
Gen22 is a social action project which gives 1,000 young people aged 16-24 employability boosting opportunities through the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Participants are supported to undertake a 30-hour volunteering assignment – helping them broaden their networks and develop skills – and provided with ongoing support before, during and after they take part.
Registering to do a DofE programme is free for Gen22 participants, made possible by generous donations received from community supporters who are passionate about bringing these opportunities to young people across the West Midlands. Young people choose activities for Physical, Skills and Volunteering sections and take part in an expedition, with their Gen22 volunteering counting towards their DofE Award. They will be supported directly by a DofE Leader via phone, email and messaging.
Doing their DofE helps young people discover new passions, build their resilience and self-belief, and gain vital skills for the future – all while working towards an internationally respected Award. The DofE’s involvement with Gen22 is part of its aim to reach a million more young people across the UK by 2026, with a focus on breaking down barriers for marginalised young people, such as those experiencing poverty and those with additional needs.
Amy Fletcher, 18, from Quinton, who is doing her Bronze DofE as part of her participation in Gen22, met The Earl of Wessex on Friday. She said: “The main attraction of this opportunity is giving us confidence and communication skills for job interviews and getting to the top because it can be a barrier. But Gen22 has got me to develop those skills and, by doing DofE, it will increase that even more because you’re going out into the community and you’ll meet more young people.
“It’s a really good opportunity to carry on even after this summer. We can continue the legacy as young people, and get the word out there that this is what the Commonwealth Games is and can do.”
Chloe Fowler, 17, from Woodgate, is also doing her Bronze DofE. She said: “Developing skills, meeting new people and building my confidence was what attracted me to doing the DofE. Just through this Gen22 group my confidence has developed so much already and we’ve met so many different people. It’s been a really good experience so far and I’m excited by the opportunities this gives me.”
Jackie Bull, Director of DofE Central England, said: “It’s fantastic that so many young people will have the chance to do a fully funded DofE programme through their participation in Gen22.
“Young people across the West Midlands have faced a challenging few years, and we know that marginalised young people have been hardest hit – but this is an amazing, motivated generation determined to succeed and make a positive difference. Opportunities like Gen22 and the DofE can play a vital role in that, giving all young people the chance to build their resilience and self-belief, broaden their horizons and develop the skills to help them reach their full potential.”
Bethan Stimpson, Gen22 Programme Lead, said: “I’m excited to be able to offer our young Gen22 participants the chance to engage with The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Gen22 is all about breaking barriers and giving participants access to opportunities they might not normally consider, pushing boundaries, learning new skills and meeting new people. Our partnership with DofE is a brilliant way to see these ambitions realised.”